GIS Tools

Many of NASA's Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) also provide tools from which data can be visualized, subsetted, and downloaded in different file formats that are Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis-ready. The table below contains a list of tools with the datasets that are available through the tool. Information about the datasets' spatial and temporal resolution is also included. For more information on resolutions, read What is Remote Sensing? Once you know the dataset of interest, links to the tools and a brief tutorial on using the tool are below.

Hidden Discipline Measurements Tool
01 Cryosphere, Land, Biosphere, Hydrosphere Snow Cover, Surface Reflectance, Land Surface Temperature, Global Digital Elevation Model, Evapotranspiration, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index/ Enhanced Vegetation Index, Leaf Area Index, Evapotranspiration, Gross Primary Productivity/ Net Primary Productivity, Fraction of Photosynthetically Active Radiation, Evaporative Stress Index, Carbon Net Ecosystem Exchange, Water Use Efficiency, Freeze/Thaw, Soil Moisture Application for Extracting and Exploring Analysis Ready Samples (AppEEARS)
02 Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Human Dimensions Air Temperature, Relative Humidity, Cloud Fraction, Cloud Top Temperature/ Pressure, Total Column Water Vapor and Ozone, Mole Fraction in Air of CO2, CO, CH4, O3, Wind Speed, Volumetric Soil Moisture, Sea Surface Salinity Giovanni
03 Biosphere, Land Vegetation Indices, Thermal Anomalies and Fire, Surface Reflectance, Net Primary Productivity, Evapotranspiration, Leaf Area Index, Land Surface temperature, Gross Primary Productivity, Burned Area, Albedo Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) / Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Subset Tool
04 Cryosphere, Land Glacial extent, Brightness temperature, glaciers, ice sheets, permafrost, sea ice, soil moisture, snow National Snow and Ice Data Center DAAC (NSIDC DAAC) and Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS)
05 Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Human Dimensions Air Quality, Agriculture (Global Agricultural Lands: Croplands/ Pastures, Crop Climate, Nitrogen Fertilizer, Nitrogen in Manure, Phosphorus Fertilizer, Phosphorus in Manure), Anthropogenic Biomes, Environmental Performance Index (2010, 2014, 2016 and 2018), Population, Disaster-related, GRACE Freshwater Availability Trends Socioeconomic Data
06 Atmosphere Solar insolation / radiation, wind speed, temperature, specific/relative humidity, precipitation, cooling/heating degree days, thermal zones Prediction Of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER)
07 Atmosphere, Biosphere, Hydrosphere, Land Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Thaw Depth, Burn Severity, Aboveground Biomass, Fractional Open Water, Land Cover, Surface Water Extent, 30 year mean monthly climatology, 10 year mean monthly climatology, monthly precipitation, atmospheric nitrogen deposition, aboveground biomass, ecosystem functional type, tree canopy cover, carbon dioxide emissions, leaf area index, soil properties, Wetland extent, forest cover, land cover, digital elevation model, vegetation and soils, SAR wetland masks, soil properties, hydrologic maps Spatial Data Access Tool (SDAT)
08 Hydrosphere Total water storage anomaly, ocean color chlorophyll-A, ocean surface current speed and vectors, ocean surface wind speed and vectors, sea ice concentration, sea surface height, sea surface salinity, sea surface temperature, soil moisture, surface precipitation rate State of the Ocean (SOTO)
09 Biosphere, Cryosphere, Hydrosphere, Land Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Vertex/SAR Toolbox
10 Hydrosphere River, lake/reservoir Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT)—Coming Soon

AppEEARS

AppEEARS

AppEEARS, from the Land Processes DAAC (LP DAAC), offers a simple and efficient way to access and transform geospatial data from a variety of federal data archives. AppEEARS enables users to subset geospatial datasets using spatial, temporal, and band/layer parameters. Two types of sample requests are available: point samples for geographic coordinates and area samples for spatial areas via vector polygons.

Performing Area Extractions

After choosing to request an area extraction, you will be taken to the Extract Area Sample page where you will specify a series of parameters that are used to extract data for your area(s) of interest.

Spatial Subsetting

You can define your region of interest in three ways:

  • Upload a vector polygon file in shapefile format (you can upload a single file with multiple features or multipart single features). The .shp, .shx, .dbf, or .prj files must be zipped into a file folder to upload.
  • Upload a vector polygon file in Geographic JavaScript Object Notation (GeoJSON) format (can upload a single file with multiple features or multipart single features).
  • Draw a polygon on the map by clicking on the Bounding box or Polygon icons (single feature only).

Select the date range for your time period of interest.

Specify the range of dates for which you wish to extract data by entering a start and end date (MM-DD-YYYY) or by clicking on the Calendar icon and selecting dates a start and end date in the calendar.

Adding Data Layers

Enter the product short name (e.g., MOD09A1, WELDUSMO), keywords from the product long name, a spatial resolution, a temporal extent, or a temporal resolution into the search bar. A list of available products matching your query will be generated. Select the layer(s) of interest to add to the Selected layers list. Layers from multiple products can be added to a single request. Be sure to read the list of available products available through AppEEARS.

Extracting an area in AppEEARS

Selecting Output Options

Two output file formats are available:

  • GeoTIFF
  • NetCDF-4

If GeoTIFF is selected, one GeoTIFF will be created for each feature in the input vector polygon file for each layer by observation. If NetCDF-4 is selected, outputs will be grouped into .nc files by product and by feature.

If GeoTIFF is selected, you must select a projection

Interacting with Results

Once your request is completed, from the Explore Requests page, click the View icon in order to view and interact with your results. This will take you to the View Area Sample page.

The Layer Stats plot provides time series boxplots for all of the sample data for a given feature, data layer, and observation. Each input feature is renamed with a unique AppEEARS ID (aid). If your feature contains attribute table information, you can view the feature attribute table data by clicking on the Information icon to the right of the Feature dropdown. To view statistics from different features or layers, select a different aid from the Feature dropdown and/or a different layer of interest from the Layer dropdown. Interpreting Results in AppEEARS

Be sure to check out the AppEEARS documentation to learn more about downloading the output GeoTIFF or NetCDF-4 files. Once downloaded, GeoTIFF and NetCDF datasets can be opened in a GIS by adding a raster layer. An example of doing this in QGIS is below.

Adding a raster layer subsetted and downloaded through LP DAAC AppEEARS tool
AppEEARS NDVI data visualized in QGIS

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Giovanni

Giovanni

Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center's (GES DISC) Giovanni, is an online environment for the display and analysis of geophysical parameters. There are many options for analysis. The following are several more popular ones:

  • Time-averaged maps are a simple way to observe the variability of data values over a region of interest.
  • Map animations are a means to observe spatial patterns and detect unusual events over time.
  • Area-averaged time series are used to display the value of a data variable that has been averaged from all the data values acquired for a selected region for each time step.
  • Histogram plots are used to display the distribution of values of a data variable in a selected region and time interval.
Giovanni interface

For each of these options, the data can be downloaded as a GeoTIFF or KMZ files.
Giovanni Output - Australia CO after fires, December 2019

GeoTIFF files can be added to a GIS program by adding a raster layer.
Raster layer visualized in QGIS

For more detailed tutorials:

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MODIS/VIIRS Subsetting Tools Suite

MODIS/VIIRS Subsetting Tools Suite

ORNL DAAC also has several MODIS and VIIRS Subset Tools for subsetting data.

  • With the Global Subset Tool, you can request a subset for any location on earth, provided as GeoTiff and in text format, including interactive time-series plots and more. Users specify a site by entering the site's geographic coordinates and the area surrounding that site, from one pixel up to 201 x 201 km. From the available datasets, you can specify a date and then select from MODIS Sinusoidal Projection or Geographic Lat/long. You will need an Earthdata login to request data. Once downloaded, GeoTIFF files can be added to a GIS program by adding a raster layer. See an example of doing this in QGIS in the section Adding a Raster Layer to a GIS.
  • With the Fixed Subsets Tool, you can download pre-processed subsets for 2000+ field and flux tower sites for validation of models and remote sensing products. The goal of the Fixed Sites Subsets Tool is to prepare summaries of selected data products for the community to characterize field sites. Data are provided as CSV and JSON file formats. CSV files can be added to a GIS program by adding a raster layer. See an example of doing this in QGIS in the section Adding a Delimited Text Layer to a GIS.

Global Subset:
Directions for subsetting data with the ORNL DAAC MODIS and VIIRS subset tool

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NSIDC DAAC and GLIMS

NSIDC DAAC and GLIMS

The Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) Initiative has repeatedly surveyed the world's estimated 200,000 glaciers. GLIMS uses data collected by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument aboard the Terra satellite and the Landsat series of satellites, along with historical observations. Each polygon within the Glacier Outlines layer represents the extent of a particular glacier at a specific time, as well as other possible features of the glacier such as the extent of debris cover or the location of supra-glacial and pro-glacial lakes.

The GLIMS Glacier Viewer is an interactive map which gives a view of data in the GLIMS Glacier Database. A number of different layers in this interface can be viewed and spatially queried.

The GLIMS Glacier outlines can be downloaded as Esri Shapefiles, MapInfo tables, Geographic Mark-up Language (GML) files, Keyhole Mark-up Language (KML, Google Earth), and the Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) multi-segment format. Shapefiles and GML files can be opened as a vector layer. The GLIMS Glacier Viewer provides options for downloading in a number of GIS formats.

NSIDC DAAC has many datasets available in GIS-ready formats (shapefiles, GeoTIFF, ASCII, etc.). WIthin “Data Sets for Research,” you can search on a specific topic, including brightness temperature, glaciers, ice sheets, permafrost, sea ice, soil moisture, and snow. Selecting one of those will then allow you to further filter by format. Choose from hundreds of scientific datasets, focusing on the cryosphere and its interactions. Data are from satellites and field observations, and are from NASA, NSF, NOAA, and other programs.

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Socioeconomic and Data Applications Center (SEDAC) Tools

Socioeconomic and Data Applications Center (SEDAC) Tools

NASA's Socioeconomic and Data Applications Center (SEDAC) has a mission to synthesize Earth science and socioeconomic data and information in ways useful to a wide range of decision-makers and other applied users. Most of the datasets can be downloaded as GeoTIFF, ASCII, or netCDF format. These datasets can be opened in a GIS by adding a raster layer. See examples of doing these in QGIS in the sections Adding a Raster Layer to a GIS or if CSV, Adding a Delimited Text Layer to a GIS. In addition, much of the SEDAC data are displayed as Vector features so they can be more easily ingested into GIS tools (not as Raster type).

Focusing on human interactions in the environment, SEDAC has as its mission to develop and operate applications that support the integration of socioeconomic and earth science data

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Prediction Of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER)

Prediction Of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER)

The POWER data portal provides direct access to NASA's solar insolation and meteorological data parameters customized for application to the Sustainable Buildings (SB), Agroclimatology (AG), and Renewable Energy (SSE) communities. Within each community, parameters can be accessed with a temporal averaging period of Daily, Interannual, or Climatological. The daily time period can be used to download the time series of the daily averaged values of the selected parameters over the selected time period. The interannual time period can be used to download a time series of the monthly averaged value of the selected parameter for each year in a selectable time period. The climatological time period gives the monthly climatological average for each selected parameter over a climatological time period (currently set by default to July 1983 – June 2005).

You can access the data regionally, globally, or even by a single latitude/longitude. For regional or global access:

  1. Select community (SSE, AG, SB)
  2. Choose a temporal average
  3. Enter a region of interest and the time extent
  4. Output formats available are ASCII, CSV, GeoJSON, and NetCDF
  5. Select Parameters and Submit.

The POWER Data Access Viewer contains meteorology and solar related parameters formulated for assessing and designing renewable energy systems.

Files can be opened either as a delimited text layer or as a raster layer (depending on type). See examples of doing these in QGIS in the sections Adding a Raster Layer to a GIS and Adding a Delimited Text Layer to a GIS. Power solar radiance data added into QGIS

For single point access:

  1. Select community (SSE, AG, SB)
  2. Choose a temporal average
  3. Enter a region of interest and the time extent
  4. Output formats available are ASCII, CSV, GeoJSON, and NetCDF
  5. Select Parameters and Submit.

Files can be opened either as a delimited text layer or as a raster layer (depending on type). POWER Single Point Data Access

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Spatial Data Access Tool (SDAT)

Spatial Data Access Tool (SDAT)

ORNL DAAC's SDAT is an Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards-based Web application to visualize and download spatial data in various user-selected spatial/temporal extents, file formats, and projections. Several datasets including land cover, biophysical properties, elevation, and selected ORNL DAAC archived data are available through SDAT. KMZ files are also provided for data visualization in Google Earth.

Within SDAT, select a dataset of interest. Upon selection, the map will open displaying the various measurements, with the associated granule, and a visualization of the selected granule.

​Canopy Height, Kalimantan Forests, Indonesia, 2014 from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center Spatial Data Access Tool.​

Canopy Height, Kalimantan Forests, Indonesia, 2014 from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center Spatial Data Access Tool.

You can then select your spatial extent, projection and output format for downloading.

​Canopy Height, Kalimantan Forests, Indonesia, 2014 from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center Spatial Data Access Tool with various output options.​

Canopy Height, Kalimantan Forests, Indonesia, 2014 from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center Spatial Data Access Tool with various output options.

File formats available are ArcInfo ASCII Grid, GeoTIFF, and NetCDF, all of which can be opened as a raster layer in the GIS program.

Some of the inventory-based datasets are available for download as shapefiles, GeoJSON, and KML, all of which can be added as a vector layer in the GIS program. They also are available as CSV, which can be added as a delimited text file; you will just need to specify the number of header lines, if any, to disregard and specify the appropriate latitude and longitude columns as x and y fields.

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State of the Ocean (SOTO)

State of the Ocean (SOTO)

SOTO is an interactive web-based tool, created by NASA's Physical Oceanography DAAC (PO.DAAC) to generate informative maps, animations, and plots that communicate and prove the discovery and analysis of the state of the oceans.

The suite of tools provide access to a broad range of satellite-derived products and key parameters of interest to the oceanographic community.
State of the Oceans (SOTO) is an interactive web-based tool to generate informative maps, animations, and plots that communicate and prove the discovery and analysis of the state of the oceans.

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VERTEX / SAR Toolbox

VERTEX / SAR Toolbox

Vertex is a data search tool, created by NASA's Alaska Satellite Facility DAAC (ASF DAAC), that provides access to a wide array of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. Once downloaded, ASF DAAC has developed an ArcGIS Desktop SAR Toolbox for use with either ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Pro, containing tools that perform geoprocessing tasks useful for working with SAR data. The tools were designed to be used with Radiometric Terrain Corrected (RTC) SAR datasets, but several of the tools have the potential to be used with a variety of rasters, including non-SAR datasets.

Alaska Satellite Facility Distributed Active Archive Center Vertex synthetic aperture radar search tool.

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Published July 10, 2020

Page Last Updated: Jul 13, 2020 at 11:11 AM EDT